Race fitness, or the lack of it, will have a massive effect in these testing conditions. Weird Al reappeared last season to land the Charlie Hall before a fine run behind Kauto Star and Long Run in this. He ran no sort of race in the Gold Cup or the Grand National subsequently but may be best fresh so has to be considered. Long Run followed his run here by scoring at Newbury when The Giant Bolster was beaten 11l but lost his Gold Cup crown to Synchronised when David Bridgewater's stable star produced an outstanding effort to finish second. Long Run is taken to come out best on this occasion and looks the main threat. Cannington Brook loves it around here and is unbeaten in two runs. He has a huge amount to find on official ratings but very heavy ground could see him in the shake-up. Wayward Prince made a fine debut for owner/trainer Hilary Parrott in the Charlie Hall but had no answer to SILVINIACO CONTI. Paul Nicholls' charge was having his first start out of novice company at Wetherby and jumped superbly to win impressively. He's taking on much better rivals here but with fitness guaranteed he's expected to follow-up and land his first Grade 1.
Cannington Brook (IRE) 12-1 (10-2) Chased leaders, weakened 4 out, badly hampered 2 out (normal 3 out), 6th of 14, 24l behind Roberto Goldback (10-10) at Ascot 3m Grade 3 hcp chs (4yo+) (1) gs.
Long Run (FR) 7-4fav (11-10) Tracked leaders on inside, hit 13th, close up 4 out, driven to chase leading pair before 3 out, every chance last, ridden and kept on flat, held for 2nd towards finish, 3rd of 14, 3l behind Synchronised (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 2f chs G1 (1) gd in Mar.
Silviniaco Conti (FR) 11-10fav (11-5) Held up towards rear, smooth headway before 4 out, challenged 3 out, led 2 out, soon clear, ran on strongly, won at Wetherby 3m 1f chs G2 (1) gs beating Wayward Prince (11-0) by 11l, 6 ran.
The Giant Bolster 50-1 (11-10) Mid-division on inside, tracked leaders 13th, went 2nd 3 out, led approaching next, ridden last, headed flat, kept on under pressure, held on for 2nd towards finish, 2nd of 14, 2 1/4l behind Synchronised (11-10) at Cheltenham 3m 2f chs G1 (1) gd in Mar.
Wayward Prince 33-1 (11-0) Held up in touch, headway on outer to lead before 4 out, mistake and headed 2 out, no chance with winner, 2nd of 6, 11l behind Silviniaco Conti (11-5) at Wetherby 3m 1f chs G2 (1) gs.
Weird Al (IRE) 28-1 (11-8) Held up behind, hampered 21st (bechers brook), soon struggling, behind when fell 4 out, in a race won by Neptune Collonges (11-6) at Aintree 4m 4f Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (7yo+) (1) gd in Apr, 40 ran.